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Board must comply with administrative law

The Board is a public body. When the Board or any of its officers takes a decision on the grant and refusal of legal services, it is exercising a public function laid down by law. In exercising these public functions the Board is subject to a body of law known as “public law” or “administrative law”.

Judicial review is a process by which the High Court can review the decision making process within a public body. A judicial review is not an appeal of a decision of a public body and does not involve the court considering the merits of the case and substituting its own decision for that of the body. Rather, it is a review of the manner in which the decision is made to ensure it is consistent with fair procedures.

Normally an applicant for judicial review seeks an order quashing the decision of the public body. The matter is remitted back to the public body to reconsider its decision in line with the judgement of the Court. The Court can also issue an order prohibiting the public body from acting beyond its powers or requiring the public body to take a particular action. It can also grant a declaration that the public body did not act in accordance with the law. It is important to note that in all cases the Court does not substitute its own decision for that of the public body.

The above is by way of introduction only. Administrative law is a vast topic in and of itself and beyond the scope of this Circular. Suffice to say however that the Board is bound by it in all decisions that it makes. Following the guidelines in this Part should assist decision makers in complying with their obligations under administrative law.